In yet another sign of how quickly 3-D printing is growing, Stratasys announced yesterday that it will acquire MakerBot in a stock-for-stock transaction initially valued at $403 million — not including performance-based incentives that could increase the total to more than $600 million (based on Wednesday’s stock price).
It was just last week that we reported Amazon.com has added a 3-D printer section to its website, and yesterday’s news further reinforces the idea that 3-D printing may soon be big business.
MakerBot was founded just four years ago, in 2009, but the Brooklyn-based company has managed to steadily increase its marketshare in the desktop 3-D printing segment. That complements the professional 3-D printing expertise of Stratasys, which has headquarters in both Minneapolis and Rehovot, Israel, due to another all-stock merger last year with Israeli manufacturer Objet.
As part of the announcement, MakerBot reported that its revenues are rising sharply, reaching $11.5 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to $15.7 million for all of 2012. The company says it has sold more than 22,000 3-D printers since 2009, but half of those sales have come from the MakerBot Replicator 2 in the last nine months. In addition, Thingiverse.com, its online portal for sharing user-generated digital designs, has more than 90,000 3-D product files and generates more than 500,000 unique visitors and 1,000,000 downloads each month.
Stratasys says it intends for MakerBot to continue operating as a separate subsidiary, preserving its existing brand and management. However, it notes that opportunities opened up by the merger include extending MakerBot’s reach through Stratasys’ global infrastructure, cross-promotion of products into a combined installed base, and leveraging Stratasys’ experience in Fused Deposition Modeling, which Stratasys founder Scott Crump invented when he started the company more than two decades ago.
Stratasys and MakerBot estimate that between 35,000 to 40,000 desktop 3-D printers were sold in 2012, and they expect that number to double this year.
[ photo courtesy of MakerBot ]